About 25% of U.S. adults may have 'silent' liver disease

As a pediatric gastroenterologist, Dr. Rene Romero guides young patients at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta through liver disease and sometimes transplant surgery.

But Dr. Romero says many adults may not realize their liver is struggling.

As many as one in four U.S. adults, an estimated 100 million American, have some level of what’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

"It is a universal problem now, as we have higher calorie foods, increase technology, decrease access to physical activity," Dr. Romero says.

Eating a high-carb, high-sugar diet, with processed foods and sugary sodas, makes it harder for your liver to break down fat as it tries to remove toxins from your blood.

So, excess fat gets stored the liver cells, which can, over time, trigger inflammation that can lead to scarring.

"That kind of continuous irritation that comes from the fatty change in the liver is now a very common cause of liver dysfunction, scarring, an advanced scarring in the liver is what’s called cirrhosis."

Getting annual blood work as part of your physical can help your doctor check your liver enzymes levels.

If they are too high, lifestyle changes such as losing 10% of your body weight if you are overweight, cutting back or cutting out alcohol, and steering away from high carb, high-sugar foods can all help keep your fatty liver disease in check.

"The heavily processed foods are the ones that we want to avoid," Dr. Romero says.

He recommends eating the right balance of food on your plate.

"Where you have where you have more protein and more vegetable and less carbohydrates, that’s what you want." Romero says.